Film critic Roger Ebert says he did not mean to insult "Jackass" star Ryan Dunn in a controversial Tweet he wrote after the daredevil died in a car crash over the weekend.
Dunn, 34, posted a photo of himself and two other men holding what appear to be alcoholic drinks on his Tumblr page hours before he and another person were killed in a fatal collision in Pennsylvania. Local authorities have cited speed as a possible factor in the accident but have not confirmed if Dunn or the other person were intoxicated at the time.
"Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive," Ebert had said on his Twitter page, hours after news of Dunn's death broke online.
Bam Margera, Dunn's co-star on the MTV daredevil reality show, fired back, Tweeting: "I just lost my best friend, I have been crying hysterical for a full day and piece of (expletive) roger ebert has the gall to put in his 2 cents."
Ebert said his Tweet prompted many readers to bombard his Facebook page with angry comments, after which it was taken down temporarily due to what the film critic called "malicious complaints from one or two jerks."
Ebert responded to the backlash over his Tweet on his blog on Tuesday, June 21.
"I meant exactly what I wrote," he said. "I wasn't calling Ryan Dunn a jackass. In Twitter shorthand, I was referring to his association with 'Jackass.' I thought that was clear. I note that Bam Margera uses the word 'jackass' in the same way in his tweet."
"I have no way of knowing if Ryan Dunn was drunk at the time of his death," Ebert added. "What I knew before posting my tweet was that not long before his death, he posted a photo on Tumbler showing himself drinking with two friends."
Ebert said that he offers his sympathy to Dunn's family and friends and to those of the other man killed, Zachary Hartwell.
"I mean that sincerely," Ebert said. "It is tragic to lose a loved one. I also regret that my tweet about the event was considered cruel. It was not intended as cruel. It was intended as true."
Dunn, who celebrated his 34th birthday on June 11, appeared on "Jackass" the series between 2000 and 2002 as well as in "Jackass" films such as "Jackass 3D." His daredevil stunts included shoving a toy car into his rectum - as seen in the first Jackass movie in 2002.
Dunn also took part in spinoff shows such as "Viva La Bam" and "Bam's Unholy's Union." His new series, "Proving Ground," began airing on the cable network G4 on June 14. After his death, the channel pulled the show from its schedule indefinitely.
Ebert, who turned 69 on June 18, is a Pulitzer Prize winning film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. He launched a reboot of his famed "At The Movies" television series earlier this year. Ebert communicates mostly through a computer, as he lost the ability to speak due to reconstructive surgeries for thyroid cancer.
Since 2006, Ebert has continued to review films and post messages on his Twitter account, which is followed by more than 472,000 people.